About four hundred people filled North Myrtle Beach City Council chambers and the adjacent City Hall atrium November 1 to participate in a public information meeting on the proposed Cherry Grove canals dredging project.
The canals in Cherry Grove are manmade and have not been dredged since they were created in the Fifties. Many of them are no longer navigable at low tide. The canals approved for dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are generally located within the area from 42nd Avenue North to 63rd Avenue North.
Attendees were told that the current cost estimate for the project is $13 million, which includes the initial dredge, a maintenance dredge, and other work. The City has already contributed $1.25 million to the project, which includes legal costs incurred during the process of determining who owns the canals (the state), preliminary engineering, and other work.
The City proposes to invest another $1.6 million in the project, about half for the initial dredge and half for the second or maintenance dredge. The City has and continues to work diligently with federal, state and other officials to determine if any funding for the project is available from those sources. To date, no additional funding has been identified.
The City proposes to fund the remaining project cost by establishing a special assessment district that would include those properties located along the canals/channels in Cherry Grove that are permitted to be dredged.
Single family homes and vacant parcels would be assessed up to a maximum of $2,400 per year for a period of up to a maximum 10 years. Condominium and duplex parcels would pay 69% of the single family home assessment.
A land parcel that can be subdivided would be assessed as a single parcel but, if subdivided, each resulting parcel would be assessed as a single parcel. Some parcels appear to be ineligible for a dock permit, which means that no annual assessment would be required, unless and until the parcel obtains a dock permit.
If the special assessment district is established according to the current proposed timetable, annual assessments would be billed on the involved property owners’ Horry County real property tax bills and would be due on January 15, 2016.
Should the project continue to move forward at its current pace, the projected timetable would include these key steps:
- By June 30, 2015, financing would be secured from a lender for the initial dredge. This borrowing requires City Council approval.
- By June 30, 2015, bids would be obtained from dredge contractors for the initial dredge, a contractor would be selected, and a contract negotiated.
- By October 31, 2015, the selected dredge contractor would have mobilized and be prepared to dredge.
- From November 15, 2015 through March 2016, the initial dredge would occur.
- From 2016 through 2019, the City would perform required environmental mitigation and monitoring required by the Corps as part of the dredging permit.
- The second or maintenance dredge is currently estimated to occur during the 2021-2022 winter. An additional City borrowing approved by City Council would be required for the second dredge, and that cost is part of the estimated $13 million cost for the overall project.
- The dredging permit issued to the City by the Corps is good for 10 years and expires September 30, 2023.